Tekmira and OnCore Are Merging to Create Hep B-Focused Company
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is merging with OnCore BioPharma in an effort to develop a cure for hepatitis B and corner a potentially lucrative market.
The deal — expected to close in the first half of this year — will combine experimental treatments being developed by both drugmakers. Tekmira is working to create TKM-HBV, an RNAi therapeutic that works to suppress the virus. The drug is set to begin clinical trials in a few months.
Pennsylvania-based OnCore is developing OCB-030, a cyclophilin inhibitor that also works to suppress the virus and stimulate the body’s immune response. That drug will enter clinical trials in the second half of the year.
The plan, according to Vancouver-based Tekmira, is to develop a cure regimen by combining those products to suppress the virus, stimulate immune systems and eliminate the cccDNA structure that arises from the virus.
Tekmira is confident that hepatitis B is a potentially lucrative market space, as there is currently no cure, only a vaccine. The virus kills more than 780,000 people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization.
The merged company will continue Tekmira’s efforts to develop the experimental Ebola treatment TKM-Ebola, which is slated to begin Phase II clinical testing in West Africa this year.
Tekmira declined to comment further on the merger. — Robert King